A very familiar face to television viewers, actor William Windom, has died from congestive heart failure at the age of 88. He passed away on August 16th at his home in Woodacre, California.
Windom was born in New York City in 1923 and was the great-grandson of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury of the same name. He later served in the Army during World War II.
His first movie role was as Mister Gilmer, the prosecutor of Tom Robinson in 1962’s To Kill a Mockingbird but he had been appearing on television for years before that.
Windom’s TV work spanned six decades and it’s hard to name a classic TV show that he didn’t appear on at least once. They include roles on Ben Casey, The Donna Reed Show, The Lucy Show, Twilight Zone, 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, Bonanza, That Girl, The Virginian, The Waltons, The FBI, Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-0, The Streets of San Francisco, Medical Center, Dallas, Barney Miller, Amen, LA Law, Newhart, Judging Amy, Ally McBeal, Providence, and on and on.
He memorably played mad Commodore Decker on the classic “The Doomsday Machine” episode of the original Star Trek TV series. In recent years, he reprised that role for the online Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II series.
Windom was a regular on several TV shows as well; The Farmer’s Daughter, My World and Welcome to It, Brothers and Sisters (1979), the original Parenthood, and Sonic the Hedgehog (voice only).
He was perhaps best known to TV viewers as warm Doctor Seth Hazlitt, Jessica Fletcher’s close friend on CBS’ Murder, She Wrote TV show. Though not a series regular, he appeared in 53 of the CBS show’s 264 episodes — more than anyone other than star Angela Lansbury.
Also a tournament chess player, Windom is survived by his fifth wife, Patricia Tunder Windom. The couple had been married since 1975. He is also survived by four children, Rachel, Heather, Hope and Rebel; and four grandchildren.
What do you think? When you think of William Windom and his work, what comes to mind?